Exec returns to producing, focus on philanthropy

Focus Features’ president of production John Lyons is ankling the studio to return to producing career and focus on his philanthropic efforts.

Lyons has spent the past few weeks working with Focus CEO James Schamus and prexy Andrew Karpen to plan his exit, though didn’t tell his staff until Wednesday. Exec will step down from his post in August, and studio has not yet settled on a successor.

Exec has been with Focus since 2003 and oversaw development and production from its Gotham offices. He was instrumental in the production of Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain” and Gus Van Sant’s “Milk,” as well as Focus’ upcoming releases including Lone Scherfig’s “One Day” and Paul Weitz’s adaptation of Nick Flynn’s memoir “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.”

“I have had eight fantastic years here at Focus that has allowed me to be part of an incredible team and to work with many of the greatest filmmakers in the world,” Lyons said in a statement. “It has been a time of great inspiration and satisfaction, but I miss day-to-day producing and feel it’s time to let this cycle come to its conclusion. Our slate is in terrific shape and we’re having a great year, so it’s the right time to make a graceful exit”

His charities include the Edible Schoolyard/NYC, which focuses on getting students to grow healthy food at their schools.

“We are really, really, really going to miss John,” Schamus said.

“For eight years, he has been family not only for all of us at Focus but for all of the many filmmakers he’s helped to nurture here. John has been a vital contributor to so many of our successes, and he’s easily one of the most beloved and respected production executives out there.”

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